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New NYC Plan to Move Homeless from Summonses to Services

Homeless man in NYC subway asking for human kindness
Photo Credit: Matt Collamer

Program Implantation Gives Homeless a Second Chance

By Dana Weiner

2 Min Read. Starting July 1, the head of the Transit Bureau, Edward Delatorre, is implementing a new “Summons Diversion” program that will provide help to homeless people who are found in violation of the subway system rules and regulations.

Instead of immediately issuing a civil summons to a homeless person, the New York Police Department will offer connections to social services in the hope to get them off the subways and into shelters where they can be provided with the help that they need, such as, resources, housing, or referral to detox programs.

Additionally, those who are homeless and choose to participate in the program will have to provide their ticket to the outreach program, so that their summons can be cleared.

The “Summons Diversion” program steams a 23% increase from last year in the number of homeless seeking shelter in the subway. 2018 saw 2,178 living in the subway system.

In addition to the increase in the number of homeless people, there has also been an increase in the incidents that the homeless have been involved which in turn has caused delays. The MTA reports a, “50 percent increase in incidents related to homeless people over the first three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2018. Of the 371 incidents through March, 84 percent caused service delays.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "New Yorkers want homeless people in the subway to receive the right interventions that will help them get back on their feet. Subjecting these individuals to criminal justice involvement for low level, non-violent offenses is not the answer."

Catholic Charities of New York offers services and counseling to the homeless population with the goal of getting New Yorkers off the streets and into the safety of temporary and affordable housing. Partnering with the Department of Homeless Services, Catholic Charities offers the Holy Rosary Bed Program, providing transitional beds for the homeless. Many homeless individuals seek shelter in the subway because of the elements, but for many, they are afraid to stay in shelters, suffer from mental illness, and/or struggle with chronic illness.

“We work with people who are on the street and we have some very temporary shelters that we work with and we have affordable housing…affordable housing — should be the permanent goal for every New Yorker,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Catholic Charities of New York Executive Director.